Alan Whitehead

Alan Patrick Vincent Whitehead (born 15 September 1950) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Southampton Test since 1997.

Alan Whitehead

Official portrait of Dr Alan Whitehead crop 2.jpg
Whitehead in 2017
Shadow Minister for Green New Deal and Energy
Assumed office
8 October 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Sir Keir Starmer
Preceded byBarry Gardiner
Member of Parliament
for Southampton Test
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byJames Hill
Majority6,213 (13.8%)
Personal details
Born (1950-09-15) 15 September 1950 (age 70)
Isleworth, Middlesex, England
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Southampton

Whitehead served under Tony Blair as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State responsible for health and safety in the now defunct Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.[1]

He served under Jeremy Corbyn as Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change,[2] and is currently in the frontbench team of Keir Starmer as Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Whitehead went to Isleworth Grammar School and then studied Politics and Philosophy at the University of Southampton, was President of Southampton University Students' Union and holds a PhD in Political Science. From 1979–82 he was Director of OUTSET, then from 1983–92 he worked for BIIT, being Director, both being charities. Before becoming an MP, Whitehead was the Leader of Southampton City Council from 1984 to 1992 and a Professor of Public Policy at Southampton Institute.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

Whitehead married Sophie Wronska in 1979, and they have a son and daughter.[4] He is a member of the Saints Trust and plays in the UK parliamentary football team. After looking at the possibility of being the first MP to install a wind turbine installed on his constituency home roof in Highfield, Southampton, Whitehead installed a number of solar panels that were integrated into the roof. During the summer months, Whitehead says he sells electricity from this source back to the national grid.[citation needed]


Whitehead was one of the 52 Labour MPs who defied Jeremy Corbyn and voted against triggering Article 50.[5] He claimed that triggering Article 50 without clarity on what we will be doing is not in our country's best interest, and he was not prepared to stand by and allow us to go down what he regard as a potentially very dangerous path for the UK.[6]

Career in ParliamentEdit

Whitehead stood for Parliament unsuccessfully for New Forest in 1979. He then stood three times for Southampton Test before finally gaining the seat in 1997.

  • 1997–1999: Member of the Select Committee on Environment Transport and the Regions
  • 1999: Parliamentary Private Secretary to Baroness Blackstone, Minister for Higher and Post 16 Education
  • June 2001 – May 2002: Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (responsible for local government, the regions and the Fire Service – Whitehead was the minister responsible for Health and Safety)[7]
  • October 2016 – March 2020: Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change [2]
  • March 2020 – Current: Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal [3]

Previous committee memberships:

Other Memberships

  • Chair of PRASEG, the Associate Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group
  • Co-Chair, Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Waste Group
  • Executive Member, SERA – Labour's Environment Campaign[8]
  • Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland
  • Member, Associate Parliamentary Ports and Merchant Navy Group
  • Member, Group on Charitable Giving
  • Member, Estonia All-Party Parliamentary Group

Whitehead voted against the Iraq War on the basis of the mission not receiving endorsement from the UN.[9] He lobbied for changes to the Government's Education White Paper. He does not support building new nuclear power stations, believing that nuclear is uneconomic. He voted in favour of ID cards and for a ban on fox hunting. He supported Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[10]

Renewable energy politicsEdit

Whitehead has lobbied for the increased use of sustainable energy sources, particularly microgeneration. He criticised the results of the Energy Review,[11] and was the co-author of EDM 2204[12] which states 'the case for nuclear has not yet been made' and urges the government to 'recognise the enormous potential for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by energy efficiency and conservation, greater use of combined heat and power, and rapid investment in the full range of renewable technologies, including microgeneration.'

As leader of Southampton City Council in 1986, Whitehead proposed that the city council take measures to become a 'self sustaining city' with regard to energy generation.[13] One such measure was the conversion of Southampton Civic Centre to being heated by local reservoirs of geothermal energy.

Whitehead sits as a non-executive director of a non-profit making company called SSEL Ltd,[citation needed] formed to deliver a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) project, which was partially funded by the Government as part of the regeneration of outer Shirley.[14]

The CHP system recycles the by-product 'low grade heat' made during the electricity generation process and uses the by-product to heat water which is piped to local homes. This scheme has been criticised by the current Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Environment & Transport, Matthew Dean, for being unviable and the Council's involvement in the project has now ended.[citation needed]

Whitehead's Private Members Bill,[15] was 'talked out' by Conservative backbenchers in 2005, but many of the Bill's most important aspects were incorporated into the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006, sponsored by Mark Lazarowicz MP.

Whitehead's amendments to the bill[citation needed] included:

Whitehead is an outspoken supporter of action on anthropogenic climate change, and has called debate by members of parliament who reject the scientific view a "flat earth love-in".[16]

Houses in multiple occupancyEdit

Due to the high concentration of houses in multiple occupation in Southampton, in 2007 Whitehead proposed changing planning regulations which would mean a landlord would be required to apply for planning permission if they wanted to convert a family home into an HMO housing more than four people.[17] The proposal was considered as part of the government's current review of the private housing sector, to report in October 2008.[18]

Pre-pay metersEdit

Alan Whitehead is currently[when?] campaigning with the National Housing Federation to end the current pricing practice used by several energy companies which sees customers who pay for their electricity or gas via pre-pay meters pay more for the same amount of energy than customers who pay via direct debit.[19] Whitehead argues: "Ten per cent of pre-pay electricity customers are in fuel poverty compared with only 3.5 per cent of direct debit customers. In short, those who need affordable energy most pay far more for it than those who do not. What is worse, because of the nature of pre-payment, most of them are not aware of that fact."

Education Bill 2006Edit

Along with fellow Labour MPs Estelle Morris, John Denham and Martin Salter, Whitehead co-wrote the so-called alternative education white paper 'Shaping the Education Bill- Reaching for Consensus,' which criticised the weakening of the role of local education authorities in the provision of education services and called for the schools admissions code to be made mandatory. He voted for the Bill when Alan Johnson, the new Education Secretary, accepted many of the alternative white paper's proposals.


Whitehead has rebelled against a government 3-line whip on the following issues:

Whitehead's rebellion against a government 3-line whip on Trident renewal is not surprising, given that archived documents have emerged showing that in 1982–83 Whitehead paid a subscription to Southampton CND.[20]

World Cup 2006Edit

In June 2006, the UK Parliamentary Football Team ran a charity match in Portugal against the Portuguese Parliament, which coincided with part of the World Cup. The match and the trip were sponsored by McDonald's as part of their Football in the Community Programme. The UKPFC was criticised for accepting McDonald's sponsorship by the BMA.[21] Whitehead, who at the time played in goal for the UKPFC, fully declared the sponsorship in his register of members interests.[22] He also pointed out the trip was part of a long-standing fundraising campaign between the UKPFC and McDonald's that raised over 20,000 euros for local charities.[23]

In SouthamptonEdit

Whitehead is a Fellow of the Institute of Waste Management, and member of the Board for The Environment Centre (Southampton) and Third Age Centre (Southampton). He is a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Media, Arts and Society at Southampton Solent University.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions". Gov.UK. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Labour reappoints Alan Whitehead as Shadow Energy Minister". Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Whitehead re-appointed to Labour's energy brief". Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Vote 2001 candidates: Alan Whitehead". BBC News. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  5. ^ Bush, Stephen (7 February 2017). "House of Commons votes to trigger Article 50 by 494 to 122: the full list of Labour rebels". New Statesman.
  6. ^ "An Update on Brexit". Alan Whitehead MP. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Health and safety Ministers launch Malta twinning project". Press Release E065:02. Health and Safety Executive. 27 March 2002. Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  8. ^ "SERA's 2016/17 Executive Committee". SERA – Labour's Environment Campaign. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  9. ^ "The Iraq situation – text of a speech given in Southampton". Archived from the original on 30 September 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006., 24 May 2004
  10. ^ Smith, Mikey; Bloom, Dan (20 July 2016). "Which MPs are nominating Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest?". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Nuclear power: the unanswered questions". Archived from the original on 30 September 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006., 13 July 2006
  12. ^ "Early day motion 2204: New Nuclear Build". House of Commons. UK Parliament. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  13. ^ "Southampton is the Green Harbour of Britain". Archived from the original on 30 September 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006., 24 May 2006
  14. ^ "Geothermal Energy". Archived from the original on 25 September 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. Southampton City Council, 25 September 2006
  15. ^ "Management of Energy in Buildings". House of Commons. UK Parliament. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  16. ^ "10 Sep 2013 : Column 238WH". House of Commons. UK Parliament. Section: Debate on the Climate Change Act. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  17. ^ "Protecting Family Homes- 10-minute rule bill". Archived from the original on 23 February 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008., 22 May 2007
  18. ^ "New review to help people living in Houses in Multiple Occupation". Archived from the original on 21 May 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2008. Communities and Local Government, 9 April 2008
  19. ^ "National Housing Federation". Archived from the original on 14 April 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  20. ^ "Southampton CND Membership list". Archived from the original on 25 October 2009.
  21. ^ "MP defends McDonald's-paid trip". BBC News. 16 June 2004.
  22. ^ "House of Commons – Register of Members' Interests". House of Commons. UK Parliament.
  23. ^ "MPs defend free World Cup tickets". BBC News. 4 June 2006. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  24. ^ Bio Archived 3 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Hill
Member of Parliament for Southampton Test